What Documents do I Need to Live, Study and Work legally in Madrid?

Home » Moving to Spain » Immigration Information » Spanish Visa Information » What Documents do I Need to Live, Study and Work legally in Madrid?

The Citylife team has collected the information below via intense research in collaboration with Proyecto Océano, one of Madrid’s most known legal associations. Please keep in mind that we are not directly related to any legal or government departments and the information may be subject to change.

[Pincha aquí para la versión en español]

If you’re not from Spain, but are living or planning on moving here, then you will most likely need to have at least one of the following documents. You might be aware that most foreigners need a visa to live abroad, but there are even more documents required to live, study and work legally whilst in Spain. If you’re just starting and need more information on applying for a Spanish visa, we have covered the basics of this process here.

Meanwhile, in this article we will outline everything you need to know about the NIE/TIEEmpadronamiento, and Social Security Number.

What is the Difference Between These Legal Documents?


The Empadronamiento is an official document stating where you live. This will make you a citizen of the city in which you reside, and will be needed in many cases (especially if you are not a citizen of the EU or equivalent) to apply for any other paperwork like the TIE etc. To learn more about this document and how to apply, click here.


– NIE: The “Número de Identidad de Extranjero” is the number of identification assigned to any non-Spaniard who lives in Spain. It is necessary to carry out any procedures with administration services, to contract products and services, and ultimately to provide your identity number. EU citizens (or equivalent*) might need to apply for the NIE depending on their specific circumstance in Spain.

– TIE: The “Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero” is the identity card that all citizens of Non EU member countries have to apply for once they arrive in Spain. This identity card will contain a photo in addition to your NIE proving your identity and recognizing you legally. So as a Non EU citizen you will need to apply for the TIE once in Spain, not the NIE!

To read more about each document, their differences and how to apply, click here.

Social Security Number

The Social Security Number is required to legally work or do a paid internship in Spain. You will need to request the what is called the “número de afiliación” so that your employer can request your social security number. To read more about this document and how to apply, click here.

Which Documents do you Need to Apply for?

We’ve created the chart below to help you determine which of these documents you actually need to apply for to live in Spain legally. A few of the basic criteria for these documents include:

  • If you are from an EU-member country or not
  • The length of your stay in Spain
  • The purpose of your stay in Spain:
    • Studies / unpaid internship
    • Work / paid internship
  • If you have carried out operations with tax repercussions

If you are a citizen of the European Union or equivalent*click here to find out what to do next. If you are a Non-EU citizen or equivalent*, please check here and follow the instructions. If your situation is still unclear, please feel free to complete the form below and we will do our help to help you clarify your situation.

Application Pitfalls to be Aware of

Local registrations in Spain tend to be very complex & confusing especially due to language barriersincomplete & contradicting information online as well as the constant absence of online appointments. Over the years we have witnessed these complications faced by applicants, so we know exactly what frustration and stress it tends to create and what it means to you personally.

That’s why we created a brand called MTS Relocation Spain, a specialized provider in relocation and legal topics.

If you would like to avoid a bumpy start of your Madrid experience, get in touch with MTS. This way you get your NIE/TIE, Empadronamiento or Social Security Number processed on time and without hassle. There are also discounted rates for international students available! Click here for more information!

To this day we at Citylife Madrid and MTS are proud of our 100% satisfaction rate from our clients. Which is why we can assure you, without a doubt, that we will be able to help you as well.

Please fill out the form below and your query will be sent to us as well as to our friends at Proyecto Océano, one of Madrid’s most known legal associations, who are also here to help you out! Please note: By sending the form below, you automatically agree that we can forward your data to Proyecto Océano as well as MTS Relocation Spain.

    First Name / Nombre

    Last Name / Apellido

    Nationality / Nacionalidad

    Estimated Date of Arrival in Madrid (DD.MM.YYYY) / Fecha Estimada de Llegada

    Duration of Stay in Spain (in months) / Duración de estancia (en meses)

    Your Email / Tu correo electrónico

    Current Residence? / Lugar actual de Residencia

    What city in Spain will you move to? / A qué ciudad en España te vas a mudar?

    What will you do in Spain? / Que vas a a hacer en España?

    Are you moving to Spain alone or with your family? / Te mudas a España solo o con tu familia?

    Do you have family already living in Spain? / Tienes familia ya viviendo en España?

    Additional Comments & Questions / Comentario adicionales y preguntas

    He leído y acepto la Política de Privacidad / I have read and accept the the Privacy Statement!


    Leah has been living in and exploring Madrid since 2013 when she moved to the city for a simple summer abroad. After falling in love with Madrid, she started the Citylife Blog in 2014 with the goal to share everything there is to know about her favourite place on earth! In her spare time you will find Leah at some of Madrid's many museums and cultural exhibitions.

    Related Articles

    15 Comments. Leave new

    • I have been staying in Madrid as a student since September and will leave in January. I have my NIE and all the other paperwork I need for my stay. However, I was wondering that when I leave, if I have to go back to the Oficina de Extranjería to let them know I’m leaving or fill out some kind of paperwork. My home university said that it depends on the national legislation, but I can’t really find anything on the internet. Can you help me out?

      • Hi Renee,

        You do not need to notify anyone that you are leaving. It’s true that perhaps there are certain rules for certain nationalities but for this you’ll need to check with the embassy that you applied for your visa with. But I personally have not heard of anything like that!


    • Hi there,

      I have been in Madrid for the last 6 months and have just realized a massive mistake that I made.

      When I got to Madrid and saw in my passport that I had my NIE number, and thought that was all I needed. I didn’t actually go and convert it into the NIE card.

      My visa has now expired as of today, although I applied for an extension around 6 weeks ago.

      I have been accepted to continue my studies at my university here (same program. I am not changing) and they provided me all the documents that i’d require, but the biggest issue was that I didn’t convert my visa NIE number into an actual card.

      Am I going to need to return to my home country (Canada) in order to reapply?? This is super stressful.

    • Hi Leah,

      Your article is super helpful, i really appreciate your effort. I have two questions i hope can be answered.

      1. I have my student visa and NIE, but i want to work part time as a model. Can my student NIE which is more than 6 month apply for a social security number and work legally?

      2. For my empadronada, i don’t have the rental contract and even proof for monthly payment. Because i just found a place on idealista and the main host doesn’t live there. I pay cash to my roommate which he hand them to the casero, Can i still get empadronada?

    • Alejandra
      22/08/2017 14:16

      How do I apply to get a social security number does it have to be in the city in where I am “empadronada” I have a Nie and empadronada in Andalucía but currently in Madrid and need to figure out how to get a social security number

    • Hello! I have a few questions. I’m not from the European Union, so what will happen if I apply than 30 days? Also, is it important in which immigration department I make an appointment or it can be any??

      • Hey Marina!
        I’m assuming you’re talking about applying for the NIE? I can’t speak in absolutes, but it seems that as long as you at least have the appointment within or around the first 30 days you will be fine. You will need to make the appoint online, and they will provide you with a list of locations where you can have the appointment!

    • how to check the status of Empadronamiento? i will be glad if u can help me out

      • Hi Sohel!

        The Empadronamiento is a document which you get on the same day of your appointment. They do everything with you right there and then hand you the paper :). If you move, you should apply for a new one under the new address and if you haven’t moved in 2 years you should renew the Empadronamiento :).

        Hope this helped!

    • It´s very important to have some friend here in Spain. We can do easily all forms, specially if we come from European Union.

    • samsung tv led
      08/10/2014 02:53

      Generally I don’t learn article on blogs, however I would like
      to say that this write-up very compelled me to take a look at and do it!

      Your writing style has been amazed me. Thanks, very nice article.

      Also visit my web page: samsung tv led

    • Leah Warner
      20/09/2014 18:40

      If you need any help with applying for Empadronamiento or Nie documents you can contact us any time!!

    • Markus Winter
      08/08/2014 00:35

      Thanks for all this useful information! I didn’t find it on the web and here I got it in a simple and structured way:-)

      • Leah Warner
        08/08/2014 08:01

        That’s great to here Markus! I am so glad we were able to help 🙂


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Fill out this field
    Fill out this field
    Please enter a valid email address.
    You need to agree with the terms to proceed

    Need any help?